The Toronto van attack that left 10 dead and 14 more wounded on Monday has raised a lot of questions—and a Facebook update, that was seemingly posted by accused mass murderer Alek Minassian just before the attack took place, only further added to the confusion.
At about 1:30 on Monday afternoon, for around seven minutes, a white rental van drove at high speeds on Yonge Ave and Finch in northern Toronto mounting the curb and at times driving in the wrong direction, striking pedestrians. Minassian was arrested shortly after and faces 10 counts of first-degree murder and 13 counts of attempted murder.
The following post was confirmed by Facebook to VICE as authentic to Alek Minassian’s profile, however police have not confirmed he wrote it, just that it appeared on his page.
“Private (Recruit) Minassian Infantry 00010, wishing to speak to Sgt. 4chan please. C23249161,” reads the post. “The Incel Rebellion has already begun! We will overthrow all the Chads and Stacys! All hail the Supreme Gentleman Elliot Rodger!”
Incel is short for “involuntarily celibate” and centres itself on men who blame women for the fact that they aren’t able to get laid. The group, while decentralized politically, is toxically misogynistic and virulently anti-feminist with many men wishing violence and rape upon women. The essential belief in the community is that the “system” is sexually rigged against men in favour of women. The term incel was actually coined by a Toronto woman in 1993 but was co-opted by men in recent years.
The group exists on websites like Lookism or the /r9k/ page of 4chan. On Reddit, the most popular page for Incels, r/Braincels, actually felt the need to state they do not condone the attack, writing “r/Braincels, does not support, encourage, or glorify any violence or physical harm, or those who commit such crimes.”
Last year Reddit banned the r/incels subreddit, which boasted about 40,000 members at the time.
The “Chads and Stacys” that are referenced in the post refer to sexually accomplished men and the women who pass over the incels in favour of the “Chads.” Within the community, Elliot Rodger, who was name-checked in Minassian’s Facebook post and the man who introduced the world to Incels, is often praised as a hero.
“I'm 22 years old and I'm still a virgin,” reads a portion of Rodgers manifesto. “I've never even kissed a girl. I've been through college for two and a half years, more than that actually, and I'm still a virgin. It has been very torturous. College is the time when everyone experiences those things such as sex and fun and pleasure. Within those years, I've had to rot in loneliness.
“It's not fair. You girls have never been attracted to me. I don't know why you girls aren't attracted to me, but I will punish you all for it. It's an injustice, a crime, because ... I don't know what you don't see in me.”
You can read an in-depth look into the incel subculture below:
Shortly after posting the manifesto Rodger stabbed three men to death, shot three sorority sisters (killing two,) and shot up a deli-mart, killing one. The rampage only ended when Rodger put a bullet in his head. At the end of the day Rodger had killed seven (including himself) and injured 14.
The online community was dealt a blow in November of last year with Reddit making the rare decision to ban the incel subreddit. The subreddit was dubbed a “support group” for incels. The social media platform stated that the group had broken its rule against inciting violence. The subreddit referred to Rodger as “Saint Elliot.” Since r/incels was shut down a new subreddit, this one called r/Braincels, opened up, which now has 16,900 followers and describes itself as “incels and guests celebrating incel culture.”
The two incel subreddits have gained enough notoriety that they actually spurred a watchdog subreddit called r/inceltears that chronicles and makes fun of the incels.
Members of the incel community have tried distancing themselves from Minassian by declaring he wasn’t a true member of the community or that his connection to the group is “fake news.” However, not all users distanced themselves from Minassian, on 4Chan and on r/Braincels some users started to praise Minassian in a similar way to Rodger leading the mods of the reddit to delete numerous posts.
In the end, the mods had to close comments on the post which outlined CBC confirming Minassian’s alleged incel status, writing “there's too much edgy garbage and brigading in this thread. The last thing we need right now is more comments violating the content policy.”
Shortly after the attack, Facebook deleted Minassian’s account as it violated their content guidelines. A VICE News exclusive also found that Minassian was briefly a member of the Canadian military, and that two of the numbers mentioned in his post may relate to the military, with “00010” being the actual trade number for the Canadian infantry and "C23249161" seeming like a legitimate service number.
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This article originally appeared on VICE CA.